Rangers 9, Mariners 5
Lance Berkman found his home run stroke from the right side of the plate. Justin Grimm struggled early only to rebound and turn in another quality start.
The Texas Rangers had a little of everything go in their favor Friday night, even a double play that shouldn't have been.
Baker's shot in the second inning gave the Rangers the lead, but it was Berkman's fourth homer of the season into the left-field seats that broke the game open in the third and sent Saunders to his first career loss at Safeco Field. It was the first homer for Baker since May 10 and first for Berkman since May 11.
''We got him into some counts where he had to throw a strike and we didn't miss it,'' Texas manager Ron Washington said. ''The big blow was the one Berkman got. We just kept battling him and battling him and got it done.''
Grimm (4-3) overcame a rough first few innings to pitch into the seventh despite giving up 10 hits. Grimm avoided a big inning, didn't walk a batter and struck out five in beating the Mariners for the second time this season.
Grimm wasn't at his best early in the game as Seattle battered him for eight hits in the first 2 2-3 innings with relievers warming in the Rangers bullpen. But Grimm managed to limit any major damage - helped by a blown call by first base umpire Jeff Nelson in the second - before settling down and retiring seven straight batters at one point.
Seattle's chance at a big second inning took a hit with a botched call by Nelson. Jesus Sucre hit a grounder to Mitch Moreland at first, who threw down to second to get the lead runner. The relay from Elvis Andrus back to first was in time to get Sucre but the throw was caught by Grimm running over to cover and not Moreland, whose foot was on the bag. Nelson missed that it was Grimm who caught the throw and called Sucre out.
''That happened so fast. I didn't realize the umpire had called him out at first,'' Grimm said. ''... I was going over to cover the bag and Mitch took it on his own so when Elvis threw the ball it started to come toward me. I didn't think Mitch was going to be able to get to it and I just snagged it up real quick in hopes to save a run and keep the double play in order.''
Seattle manager Eric Wedge went out to argue, but his argument was that Moreland had pulled his foot off the bag. He didn't realize until watching the replay later that it was Grimm who caught the throw and it never reached Moreland's glove.
''It would have been a much bigger argument if I had known that at the time,'' Wedge said.
Some of the furor stopped when Brendan Ryan followed with a two-out RBI double to tie the game at 2 and was further muted by what the Rangers did against Saunders and Seattle's bullpen.
Still, the Rangers realized they got lucky.
''I didn't have to see the replay,'' Washington said. ''I knew we caught a break there.''
Saunders (3-5) entered the night 9-0 at Safeco Field, including a 3-0 mark with a 0.94 ERA this season. But Saunders gave up six earned runs and eight hits in just five innings and the Mariners lost their seventh straight.
Saunders' problems started when he walked Nelson Cruz on a 3-2 pitch in the second inning and gave up Baker's opposite-field homer two batters later to give Texas a 2-1 lead. He immediately faced problems in the third giving up a leadoff single to Jurickson Profar and a one-out double to Moreland. After striking out Berkman looking in the first inning, Saunders got just one pitch into the at-bat his next time up. Berkman drove the first pitch out to give the Rangers a 5-2 lead.
Texas scored three more times in the seventh against Seattle's bullpen, capped by David Murphy's two-out, two-run single.
Notes: Seattle's been outscored 28-6 in the last three games. ... Texas announced after the game that Martin Perez will be called up to start the first game of Monday's day-night doubleheader at Arizona with Yu Darvish likely going in the nightcap. .... Raul Ibanez's had an RBI double in the third inning. It was the 400th double of his career. ... Injured Texas RHP Alexi Ogando (biceps tendinitis) will throw a bullpen session between games of the Rangers' doubleheader on Monday in Arizona. He'll be reassessed after the bullpen and could come off the disabled list next weekend.